902.826.1933
Fleas & Ticks Services

Pet Parasite Prevention

External parasites are always concerning when it comes to our pets. Fleas and ticks are two of the most common. Here’s what you need to know about them.

What are fleas?


Fleas are small, parasitic insects that feed by sucking blood from mammals and birds. While immature fleas do not bite, adult fleas usually feed several times a day. In most parts of Canada, the peak flea season is early August to early October.


What are ticks?


Ticks are parasitic organisms that attach themselves to the skin of dogs, cats, and other mammals by using their mouthparts. These parasites feed on the blood of their hosts and can cause toxicosis or hypersensitivity, and in some cases blood loss anemia. Ticks can also be transmitters of bacterial or viral diseases. The skin, the lymphatic and immune systems, and the nervous systems, can be negatively affected if gone untreated. Ticks come in 4 stages: egg, larvae, nymph, and adult.


How can you tell if your pet has fleas and/or ticks?


Unlike some parasites, both ticks and fleas are visible to the naked eye. You may or may not see your pet scratching if they have fleas. You will likely see either fleas and/or flea dirt (little black flecks that look like pepper). Ticks are larger than fleas and grow as they feed on your pet, changing colour at the same time from a dark brown to greyish. Ticks often look like small skin tags as the tick embeds its head under your pet’s skin and only its body is visible. Ticks should be removed using a specially designed, inexpensive tick remover (e.g. Tick Twister) to ensure all of the head and mouthparts are removed.


How do you prevent fleas & ticks in pets?


There are many safe and effective products available at our veterinary clinic to prevent flea infestations and tick attachment. Some products are topical (applied on your pet’s skin) while others are given by mouth. The frequency of administration depends on the product you choose.


What should I do if I find fleas on my pet(s)?


The best defence is a good offense! It is much easier to prevent fleas than to treat them. If your pet lives what is considered a “high risk” lifestyle (indoor/outdoor pets, doggy-daycare goers, etc), it is much easier to keep them on prevention year round. Adult fleas live for about 100 days, in that time they feed off of our pet’s blood and produce eggs. These eggs then hatch in the environment (our homes, as well as outdoors). This is where they complete their transition from larvae to pupa to adult flea. Pupae can survive in a dormant state for almost 200 days, which is where getting rid of an infestation can become an issue. If you have an active flea infestation, you must treat for 3 months minimum, in order to catch every life stage of the flea. The other trick to getting rid of fleas is that EVERY cat, dog, and ferret, in the house, must be on prevention/treatment. Even if your dog has fleas and your indoor-only cat does not, yet, they will both need to be treated.


Why is treating and preventing fleas so important?


Treatment is strongly recommended because of the discomfort they cause, the role they play in contracting tapeworms by being injected and because they can cause zoonotic diseases such as bartonellosis or cat scratch fever. Due to the life cycle of the flea once fleas enter your home it usually takes 90 days to complete the treatment to get rid of them.


What are the treatment options for ticks?


There are a few products to choose from, the protection you use to guard your pet(s) against tick attachment and subsequent transmission of tick-borne diseases comes down most often to your preference as some products require monthly application/administration while others are designed to last three months per dose.

Blog

The Importance of Microchipping Your Pet

Pets can get lost which can be a traumatic and possibly tragic event.  It’s important to have a collar and ID tag, but these are not foolproof.  Collars can break or fall off leaving your pet unidentifiable. This can be prevented with the use of a microchip. As noted in the Dartmouth Tribune in April 2017: A pet is lost every seven seconds One in three pets will go missing in their lifetime Only 2 percent of lost cats and 17 percent of lost dogs with ID return home When a pet gets lost, they are 20 times more likely to make their way back home when they have a microchip A microchip is a small chip that is encoded with a unique identification number.  It is no bigger than a grain of rice and implanted just under the surface of your pet’s skin.  The process is similar to receiving a vaccination through a needle and is virtually painless to pets.  Once implanted, the microchip remains between the shoulder blades just beneath the skin for the rest of the animal’s lifetime, becoming a permanent form of identification. Since it’s under your pets’ skin it can’t break or fall off like a collar or tag. The chip is powered by a scanner which sends a signal to the chip and receives the identification number stored on it.  A vet or shelter can use the scanner to read your pet’s chip.  With the identification number, your pet’s information is a phone call away. When your pet is microchipped, it is linked to a database with your contact info.  It is essential that you register the microchip and ensure your contact information is kept up to date.  If you move or change phone numbers be sure to update your information.  Microchips are reliable and use nationwide registries, but they depend on the information you provide. If you want to improve your chances of getting your pet back home quickly and safely microchipping is highly recommended.   Written by Tracy LeFler, Site Coordinator Edited by Janis Wall, RVT

Read More
See All Articles

Last updated: March 22, 2022.

Dear Clients,

Our top priority here at Westwood Hills is the ongoing health and safety of our clients, their pets, and our dedicated team members that serve you and the community.

NEW: We kindly request that clients continue wearing facemasks during their visits to our hospital. Our staff will continue to wear masks, as they remain one of the most effective ways to slow the spread of COVID-19.
* *Facemasks are no longer mandatory in veterinary clinics (but still highly recommended) as per recent provincial guidelines.

Here is what you can expect during your next visit:

  • We ask that all clients keep their distance / practice social distancing.
  • Continue the use of debit / credit cards as the preferred payment method.
  • For those interested we will still offer curbside pickup. Please place your food and medication order 48 hours in advance.
  • We are constantly analyzing our day to day actions and we appreciate your patience. We will continue to implement procedures that are in the best interest of both you, our clients and our staff.

    If you are not feeling well in any way, or if you have interacted with someone who has been diagnosed with COVID-19 we ask that you stay isolated and do not visit us at the clinic. If your pet needs medical attention please have a family member or friend bring in your pet or pick up prescriptions / food.

    OPERATING HOURS

    Monday - Friday: 8:00 am – 8:00 pm
    Saturday: 9:00 am - 4:00 pm
    Sunday: Closed

    NEW PET OWNERS

    Have you welcomed a new furry family member to your home? We’d love to meet them! Visit our Must Know New Pet Owner Information page for useful resources and helpful recommendations for new pet owners.

    Thank you for your patience and understanding and we look forward to seeing you and your furry family members again!

    - Your dedicated team at Westwood Hills Veterinary Hospital